Saturday 1 April 2023

Grief

 Decades ago I went to the funeral of a work collegue, and one of my other collegues bee lined for the spouse and exchanged some meaningful words before moving off. I remember clearly thinking "I don't know what to say at funerals, I wish I could be like that'.

The older I get, the more I seem to need to say things to bereaved people. So I stumbled across this podcast and started to give it a listen. I'm still listening, as I found my own grief with my Dad so weird. It helps you realise that whatever you feel and however you deal with it is normal.

When Dad was dying, it was really traumatic and I was trying to be strong for both him and Mum, helping her cope with all that needed to be done. By coincidence I had a lot of concerts on so I kept going and dancing away my stress. It really helped me decompress and I'd be fresh for the next day, rather than drained and depressed. After he died, I had some plays and concerts (the sitting type, not the dancing type) and I decided I'd go. I told the people I went with that if I got up and left during it, not to follow me and I'd text them that I was home safe. I didn't know how I would feel but I figured I could sit at home and watch tv and be sad in my head or I could sit in a crowd and be sad or possibly be distracted or feel something else. I genuinely didn't know at the start of the play if I'd make it to the end. I think I made my friends very nervous and uncomfortable (one even texted me when I went to the bathroom at interval to check I was still there....theatre toilet queues make it take a while) so I was probably externally pretty odd. But I guess for me, I'd cut out alcohol completely because I was scared of what uncontrollable emotions that might unleash, so this was sort of the 'relaxing, enjoyable' soothing effect that a drink might have. Something to take the edge off, you might say.

At one point my mum said 'you do need to make sure you grieve properly'. I remember thinking, sadness isn't a thing that will stop. I don't have to display sadness 24 hours a day. This is forever. I kind of think we are told how to grieve but it's not actually helpful to the griever. It's like a weird respectful display for others, but they lose interest in helping you grieve and only really notice when you aren't doing the right thing. Grief doesn't come in waves as they say, it's just constant, but the ferocity of it ebbs and returns. You're angry, you're sad, you're numb - there's no pattern or reason. Most of all, there's no timeframe.

I found I managed all the milestones in the first year with ease - I'd prepared for them but it was the unexpected attacks - the memories that were triggered out of nowhere when I would fall apart. I would actually fell like I'd been punched. I went to a concert the night before the funeral (which my husband was so uncomfortable with) and it was a really great thing to do, it was calming - I slept well but the morning of the funeral I couldn't even get dressed and I said to a friend in a text that I didn't think I could go. I was sitting on the floor naked in the bathroom and couldn't move. I probably wouldn't have gone (which obviously would have been a HUGE mistake) but the friend, who had texted at exactly the right moment said "Just take a deep breathe and I'll see you in an hour". It's funny, that basic command kind of made me start moving again. What I will say, that complete breakdown and inabillity to physically function was not about my dad. It was about me. It was me not wanting to deal with it. It was me wanting to avoid the officialness of the farewell. It was me not wanting to talk to people. I hated the funeral (there was nothing wrong with it, it just didn't help me grieve) but I did get comfort from the reception afterwards. Comfort from talking to people I hadn't seen in a long time or had never met who told me stories I didn't know or had long forgotten. 

Anyway, in the podcast (I think in ep 3 but it might have been 2), she talks about how movement is important and for some people, even dancing is part of the grieving process. How doing things you did together, no matter how small is part of the grieving process. When she said it, I thought "That's me". While I wasn't dancing, I did go to the theatre with my Dad and I had so many memories of talking about the show and making jokes in the car on the way home and dressing up for the occasion of it all. I sort of think that's why, even when I was sad, I found a kind of peace there. 

Anyway the bottom line is, if you are interested in understanding grief, this might be helpful. It makes you realise whatever you are feeling is normal, and it's weirdly positive and uplifting. If you have a bereaved friend, this will definitely give you ideas on how to be there for them.



No affiliation, and I've only listened to the first 3 and then ep 54 but so far I've found it very interesting and helpful. So this is a sort of Community Service Announcement for those that might need to hear it.

Linking with #WeekendReflection for the pictures #AnythingGoes  #TheRandom and #WWandP




My Random Musings

20 comments:

  1. Dear Lydia,
    everyone grieves differently, but I also believe that there are a few methods that help. When my father died, a belly dance workshop was held the day after his death (which I attended regularly once a week at the time). I wasn't sure if I should go, but I went and it felt good to dance. However, some belly dancing colleagues found it strange that I danced instead of mourning at home...
    Creativity helped me too. I made a photo book about my father's life. Even when my mother died, I dealt with the photos she left behind - the pictures showed me that she had lived her life and this helped me. And yes, it is also comforting to talk to friends and relatives of the deceased and to remember together or to be told unknown stories - at the funeral service or even many years later...
    Ultimately, I think it's important to keep a space in your life for the people you loved and to be thankful that you were able to accompany them for a while.
    I would also like to thank you for your previous blog post, in which I was able to take a close look at the beautiful Sydney Opera House, also from the inside. And thanks for your comments! You asked me "How long were you in Costa Rica for?" - we were there for three weeks. I think that's a good time frame for a trip in this country.
    You also wrote me about Daisy Jones - and the actor who played Graham. You're right, he has a great facial expression! Do you know this article about him? >>> https://hollywoodlife.com/feature/who-is-will-harrison-5040940/
    All the best from Austria and a good first week of April!
    Hugs, Traude ­čśś

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a really interesting thing about grief that no one talks about - you spend a lot of time wondering 'should I go or nor?' or 'should I do this or not?' Your brain is so muddled you're quite uncertain of yourself...Thanks for the article - will read.

      Delete
  2. Hi Lydia, five years on and I still think of my Dad every single day. Some days I still have a cry. Some days are that stabbing painful grief still. Other days a more gentle sadness. But it is always there. I don't remember if I used movement to help me 5 years ago. All I know is that it's the worst thing I've ever had to face but also it showed me sides of myself, a strength, that I didn't know I had which is helpful to know for future hard times. Thanks for the link to that Podcast. I might just check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so timely because it's coming up to 2 years since I lost my mum. I think you're so right about grief being a constant - sometimes I feel it's like a dull ache and at others it can feel like an acute pain. I will definitely check out the podcast - thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Lydia - I think grieving for a parent is an honour - that might sound strange, but it shows the depth of the love in the relationship. My dad died 7 years ago and I've never once felt even an iota of grief. He lived a selfish life, was a distant parent, and showed no real affection or love through my entire life....so I felt nothing when he died (except maybe relief) and nothing since. Grieving is healthy and the sign of true love and a legacy left by that person. I'm glad you found a way to work through some of it - and it fits with who you are.

    On a different note - in case you miss it, you inspired my blog post this week and I've quoted you in it. Thanks for telling me to not listen to my mean girl inner voice - it really helped me. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for letting me know. And I'm glad what I said was taken in the right way. I often worry I read badly (without the tone apparent). As for your father, those sorts of relationships can either make the grief much worse (that missed opportunity) or easier - I am glad for you it was the latter because it's not like anthing is gained from the former. It's just more internal punishment for something that was always out of your control. And yes, I do beleive grief is an echo of love.

      Delete
  5. A timely and thoughtful post. I guess the thing is, well, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and no right or wrong way to cope and no right or wrong way. It just is what it is and when it is. I know that makes no sense, but your post does makes sense - a lot of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Grief is a constant and you've written about it really well Lydia. Thanks for the Community Service Announcement. I also found it hard when my dad was dying because we knew he was going but then when it happened we all still fell apart. I wanted to be strong for mum and everyone else, (I'm the eldest) but probably held in my grief to some extent. Movement of any kind is good for the body and mind but I get you on the question of 'whether to go or not'. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too was busy looking after everyone when Dad died. And then about a month later, Avicii died and I fell apart (because I was allowed to make it about me and my loss - so hilariously, I still get really teary talking about Avicii and I know that's not really about Avicii but about Dad...it's the weirdest thing)

      Delete
  7. The grieving process is definitely unique for each person and yet also has some common threads. I agree with you that I am better prepared for the milestones that I expect to be difficult. It's the times that grief catches me offguard that are most difficult. Thanks for sharing the podcast.

    ReplyDelete
  8. HI Lydia I could probably write pages in answer to your thoughts about grief. I agree with all that you say. Just one comment would be that when my son died, all I wanted to do was ride my bike as that was something we did together. It seemed to give me comfort. I might write my thoughts down in a post. Will link to you if I decide to do it. I've written quite a bit about my son, but very little about my grief. Thanks for the link to the podcast. I will check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing this. It's hard when you're in it to really understand why you are doing some of the things you do, or why it weirdly helps. Please do link me (or send to me) if you write about it and I miss it in the link ups.

      Delete
  9. I knew this would be a post which would help me know more about you. I first started following you, I think, about the time, you were doing the trips to see your father. I also know that you have helped me along with way by recommended Augusten Burrough. I am still to experience the grief of the second parent (he is 99) dying...and it's something that could happen any day or not for ages. Weird but true....Thank you for sharing your post with the Wednesday’s Words and Pics community this week. I hope, if you are enjoying a long weekend for Easter, that it is going well. See you next week, I hope. Denyse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes so long to get ready to talk about it. Even if you are managing okay. I do think we don't talk about it enough tho. I was at a funeral yesterday. It was very hard seeing all the facets of pain.

      Delete
    2. And yes, I am thankful I discovered that Burroughs book when I did!!

      Delete
  10. Ahh Lydia, it's good to hear that the podcast is giving you some of those "oh yes!" moments. I completely get what you mean. I did similar when my Grandad passed away. Somehow moving, and doing things felt like a way to not get trapped in pain and grief. Big hugs. #DreamTeam xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have recently lost my wonderful father, so I know all about grief #dreamteam

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree that it can be so difficult knowing what to say as everyone's experience of grief is different and the time scales vary. Thanks for linking up with #DreamTeam

    ReplyDelete